Walmart offers to pay for employees’ health care degrees

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Photo Source: BenefitsPro.com

This article was published on September 27, 2019 on BenefitsPro.com written by Jack Craver.

The retail giant hopes the offer will yield a stock of qualified professionals to staff its rapidly growing network of health care providers.

In part of an effort to expand its health care business, Walmart is expanding its offering of nearly free college courses, focusing on health and wellness.

The company’s 1.5 million employees can now apply for nine different higher education programs through six universities.

Employees can receive training as pharmacy technicians or opticians through Penn Foster, an online college, or they can pursue bachelors degrees in business, health care administration and IT specialties through the University of Florida, the University of Southern New Hampshire, Purdue University Global, Bellevue University and Wilmington University.

Walmart is also pondering adding behavioral health specialties to the mix next year.

Workers who qualify for the program only pay $1 a day in tuition, or $365 a year. The company launched the program in May 2018, but initially it only offered degrees in supply chain management or business and only those without college degrees were eligible.

The retail giant hopes the offer will yield a stock of qualified professionals to staff its rapidly growing network of health care providers, which includes 5,000 pharmacies, 3,000 vision centers and 400 hearing centers.

“These offerings will arm associates to fill critical health-care roles across Walmart and Sam’s Club,” Walmart chief medical officer, Thomas Van Gilder, said in a call with reporters. “It’s filling a critical need in a growing field.”

Similar to its online rival Amazon, Walmart is seeking to disrupt the health care industry by offering low-cost and low-barrier services.

Next month, the company will begin offering Sam’s Club members in Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina bundled health care services for a monthly fee. Individuals who pay $50 a month will qualify for unlimited $1 per-consultation telehealth services, big discounts on a variety of wellness services, such as chiropractic and massage therapy, and free access to 20 generic prescription drugs.

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